Students in Daniel Prieto’s cross-cultural ministry class discover early just how much they don’t understand about other cultures. In time, they come to appreciate how God sees each culture and how to cultivate genuine love that will reach any person, anywhere.
LPC adjunct professor Daniel Prieto views students in his cross-cultural ministry class as unique individuals, each with a life story. He also sees the students collectively as a network of influence to change the world.
“The Church is too often visible but not always present,” Daniel says. He believes we need ministers of the gospel to be fully engaged in every walk of life – government, education, fine arts, finance, entertainment, family, and media. “We need leaders and the fivefold ministries from Ephesians 4 in the public arena and not in the Church alone.”
Daniel’s worldview includes reaching every person, in every culture with the gospel. He helps students in his classes gain new understanding and awareness of the convergence of these two ideals – the gospel in the public, and reaching every culture – that makes students sit up and take notice.
Katie Reyes’s worldview has shifted because of insight she gained during Daniel’s class. “I was confronted with my own contentment, accepting cultures at a surface level,” Katie says. She learned that “In God’s eyes the evangelized are more important than the evangelist.” Katie discovered that placing the needs of the evangelized first requires the ability to understand, embrace, and love every individual in a personal and meaningful way.
Nathan McCammon, Katie’s classmate believes that, “the world is not quite so foreign as it may seem. Every culture shares humanity, a basic idea of love.” Nathan has observed how the “foreign demeanor” of other cultures can scare off some Christians. He has learned in Daniel’s class that every cultural group can be reached with the gospel, if Christians will embrace the different cultures with careful thought and preparation.
“Sometimes in the Church, we preach more culture than gospel,” Daniel tells his students. While he encourages them to value all cultures, Daniel also hopes they will take time to notice what makes cultures unique and to learn from the people how best to communicate the gospel.
To this end, Daniel assigns a class project in which his students study people in an urban, multicultural setting with a goal of developing a church plant. “We help students read the city and discern the reality of the needs of the people,” Daniel says. “Most important, we train students to seek God about what He wants to accomplish in the setting and among the people who live there.”
As students gain a new understanding about people, culture, and God’s leading, Daniel helps them formulate a strategy to effectively evangelize, disciple, and train leaders for ministry.
When Daniel started in ministry some 30 years ago, he viewed himself more as a teacher than a pastor. He believes those roles have reversed and today he views himself more as a pastor for the college students he teaches. “This is a generation in search of a real God,” he says. Daniel works hard to help his students find God in fullness and to realize there is more to life than merely identifying their individual purpose. “God has a purpose for an entire generation,” he tells them. Then he asks, “What does God want to do through your generation?”
As any good teacher does, Daniel raises more questions for his students than he may answer, pressing them to dig for the answers. He certainly has the answers, at least to most of their questions. Daniel brings three decades of cross-cultural church leadership to his classes, and is the author of three books on the subject. Currently, he is completing his doctoral studies in sociology.
“He not only focuses on students receiving knowledge, but he is concerned with the way in which they will apply it,” Katie Reyes says of Daniel’s teaching methods. Nathan McCammon enjoys the way Daniel approaches his students. “The experience in his classroom is personal. He makes himself available to you, even off the clock. He bought me coffee twice! He’s a genuine nice guy.”